The life cycle of a whale can be divided into three stages: baby, adolescent and adult. Whales are mammals and typically live 30 to 70 years in groups called pods. They are found in all of the world's oceans.
Types of Whales
There are two general types of whales--baleen and toothed--and each type is further subdivided into species. "Baleen" refers to keratin plates located in the upper jaw that filter food, such as plankton, out of seawater. Whales live in one of three types of pods: matriarchal (led by a female), bachelor (group of solitary males) or family (mother, father and calf).
The baby stage spans from birth to weaning from the mother’s milk, which occurs by age 3. Adolescence begins with sexual maturity and ends with finding a mate. These milestones generally are reached between ages 6 and 13. Adulthood is defined by mating, which occurs every two to three years.
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Female whales determine the structure of pods. If a female wants to live in a family pod, the male will stay and protect the family. Otherwise, he will return to his bachelor pod. Matriarchal pods share the responsibilities of raising the young.
Baby whales are born in warm surface waters because they must immediately breech the surface to get a first breath.
Whales can stay underwater for up to 15 minutes before they need to take a breath.